Top Ten Albums of 2009


Jan 26 2010, 21h55

10. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
If it was just a lesson in sounding lazy and urgent at the same time, it would still be impressive. But it's got a beautiful musical palette of woozy Eastern strings and African drums and delicate flamenco that tips it right over the edge into wonderfulness, and straight into my top ten.

9. Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor
Patrick's probably not going to win any new converts at this stage in his career; those wilful idiosyncrasies of his can be forbidding even to loyal and hopeful fans. But I still love his magpie albums, taking bits and pieces of all the things that move him and transporting them into his brilliant and unlikely musical world.

8. Shakira – She Wolf
The most unashamedly joyful album I heard all year; an infectious celebration of life, love and sex that you’d have to be stone-hearted not to enjoy. The sublimely ridiculous translations of Shakira’s lyrics add a certain ‘Que?’ to the proceedings, (Is ‘Que?’ Spanish for ‘Je ne sais quoi’? – I’m sure it must be) which involve some frantic drumming, a James Bond theme better than any we’ve had in years, and of course some very endearing animal noises.

7. Rihanna – Rated R
An album darker even than most of us expected, with no less than three songs in which Rihanna is probably about to die, generally by her own hand, and more often than not taking someone else with her. Then there's the hard edge that comes from framing the album in the musical and lyrical tropes of gangsta rap. It would all be terribly grim, but she tempers it with ballads of such tender delicacy and uncertainty that it feels like blossom.

6. Little Boots – Hands
One of the saddest musical stories of the year was how the tipsters and tastemakers who lauded Little Boots in January turned their backs on her once they'd heard her album. They did know it was pop, right? But I think in those circles pop is often only OK when it's given a gloss of retro-futurism or delivered in an ironic, joyless pose. Well I hope Little Boots isn't put off, and that she carries on making her cheesy, uplifting, perfectly constructed music - I loved this album.

5. royksopp – Junior
I'd always written them off a bit in the past, for making music that was often at best only pretty, at worst directionless and rambling. But they came back last year as yer super soaraway ‘sopp, reaching giddy heights of psychodramatic disco euphoria with the help of some dementedly good guest vocalists and a boatload of intense, thrusting tunes.

4. k-os – Yes!
3. Bike For Three! – More Heart Than Brains
Well it’s been a great year for Canadian hip-hop then. Although that’s a limiting way to describe either of these albums. K-os lives in a world where rap, electropop, soul and indie form one big genre that knows no boundaries – always accessible and never less than thrilling. The Bike for Three! album sees Buck 65 spewing thoughtful, dizzy, stream-of-consciousness parables over tinkling, deceptively unassuming electronica from Greetings From Tuskan; it was powerful and it moved the hell out of me.

2. Loney, dear – Dear John
Absolutely heartbreaking. Over sparkly electro-orchestral pop, Emil Svanängen sings in his little lost voice about being trapped by memory, struggling with reality, losing his love over and over again, and longing to change. The music is beefy, clever and engaging, and the songs sound like they were crafted by angels. If his misery isn't the sort that breeds hope then it at least brings catharsis, and an album that's a good friend on a lonely night.

1. The-Dream – Love vs. Money
He chose his name well. The-Dream's latest album floats into the head like re-imagined memories and never quite shakes loose. His weapons as ever are puffy clouds of synths like warm golden syrup, and squelchy metallic beats like rutting robots. Every last bit of detail in every second of every song adds to the gorgeous fantasia of his sound, making the album an audiophile's, well, dream.

You might worry that, having written and produced some of the most well-loved songs in the world for some of its most successful artists, he couldn't have left much of the good stuff for himself. But cannily, the material he saves for his solo work is his most intensely personal and focussed.

So, Love vs. Money is a thematic suite that forms a completely satisfying narrative. Love is won, and celebrated through blissful romance. Love is cemented, through witty and equally blissful injections of love cement that necessitate a return visit to the ladies' hairdressers. Love is lost!, as Dream darkens his miasma with steely and angry passion in the title song(s) and the incredible meditation of Fancy.

And at last, as money and regret are put aside and we learn to trust the right side of our brains, love is regained. And the album ends, as good days can, with two lovers in bed, listening to their favourite music in the world.
Envios aceitos
My Gang


  • Babs_05

    Thanks for this. I saw it as soon as you posted but I'm ashamed to say, I don't know all of them! What was I doing all last year? Probably one of the most varied and eclectic top tens I've seen, not to mention intriguing.

    Jan 28 2010, 21h26
  • Orange_Anubis

    Cheers Babs - hope you enjoy any that you do check out x

    Jan 28 2010, 21h39
  • mhunke

    nice list. i definitely agree with your k-os and the-dream nods

    Jan 30 2010, 14h43
  • Orange_Anubis

    Thanks - is k-os well-known/liked in Canada? He's pretty much unknown over here.

    Jan 30 2010, 15h15
  • pherftyy

    He's had a few singles get pretty big, mainly from Joyful Rebellion.

    Fev 4 2010, 22h14
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